Saturday, August 15, 2015

El Mayor Blanco Tequila NOM 1143 (40% Abv.)

El Mayor comes from Destiladora Gonzalez Gonzalez, SA. CV. and is marketed as the higher-end tequila from a distillery that puts out a few budget marcas. By last count it appears as if only a handful of different brands come from this particular distillery. Its story goes something like this, the Gonzalez family has been harvesting blue agave for 125 years and mentioned somewhere as the largest independent producer of tequila in the world. A quick trademark search in Mexico reveals the Mayor and El Mayor brand names were filed sometime in the early 1990s and mid 2000s by Destiladora Gonzalez Gonzalez, SA. CV.. The El Mayor brand name trademark was filed in the United States of America by Luxco, Inc. around 2006. Guessing that El Mayor tequila is somewhat of a joint venture - importation deal between the two companies. It's produced by third generation master distiller Rodolfo Gonzalez. The same person that founded Destiladora Gonzalez Gonzalez in the highlands of Jalisco sometime around 1986.

If the distillery was built in the mid 1980s then it's probably safe to say the fabrica is more modern than rustic but still not as high-tech (industrialized) as some of the newer ones being built today. A good indicator of this is there is apparently no diffuser on site at Destiladora Gonzalez Gonzalez. The Gonzalez distillery uses ripe estate-grown blue agave from various plots of land in the highlands area region of Jalisco. Apparently after the jimadors harvest the agave - the cut and shaved blue agave pinas are transported out of the fields to the distillery by donkey. Once the pinas arrive at the distillery where workers cut the agave into quarters with axes and remove the stalks from the female pinas (a component that could impart bitterness in the tequila). The pina quarters are placed inside large stainless steel autoclaves by workers with the aid of a small conveyor belt. Then the agave is slowly roasted in the autoclaves for 24+ hours.

Once the the cooking and cooling phase is complete the cooked agave quarters are transported to the shredding machinery where the pieces of cooked agave are broken down into even smaller pieces to facilitate the milling phase. There was talk of a millstone (tahona) being used at this facility but can't find anything that verifies this. The cooked agave fibres pass through a modified mill - the pressing/rolling action is complimented with the injection of water in strategic locations optimizing sugar extraction and the agave is squeezed to separate the juices from the fibers. This process results in crushed and soggy brown bagazo (agave fibre) and sweet aguamiel juice that is collected for the fermentation process. No mention anywhere about the distillery's efforts to recycle organic material (ie. the bagazo) to minimize the impact on the environment. No mention anywhere about the distillery's water source.

Fermentation takes place in the distillery's large stainless steel tanks using a proprietary yeast culture - no enzymes or additives are used. It takes approximately 3 to 5+ days to complete the fermentation process - also factoring in weather conditions that can affect such a process.

Once the fermentation is complete the next step is the double distillation process. Destiladora Gonzalez Gonzalez has copper lined stainless steel pot stills (4,500+ L capacity) with stainless condensation tanks. The first distillation of the mosto results in a ordenario with an alcohol concentration of 25-30%. In the second distillation the ordenario is distilled reaching an alcohol concentration of 55%. The Blanco is filtered and diluted to desired proof then bottled, hand labelled and numbered for commercial purposes. Then there there is the aging - no idea at what proof the blanco is when placed in the charred white oak barrels that previously housed bourbon (guessing 40% Abv.) and rested months and/or years for El Mayor's reposado, anejo and extra anejo offerings.

Appearance: Crystal clear/colourless, forming wide, legs on the sides of my Riedel glass that are not slow. Aroma: Cooked agave, earthy, mild floral notes, lime rinds?, pepper (black?) and mild alcohol burn. Flavour: Bold earthiness with crisp cooked agave notes, a mild black pepper spiciness component, light floral (hibiscus?), hint of citrus, and slight alcohol bite. Semi-oily upon entry, a bit of minerality, accompanied with mellow alcohol burn at the back of the mouth. Some nice lingering heat in the mouth with some numbness on the middle tongue, gums and roof of the mouth. Finish: Medium finish, pick up more of that hibiscus note, lingering spiciness and earthy cooked agave, some mild sweetness and alcohol.

This tequila cannot be called a one-trick pony. It definitely has a lot of flavours and aromas that seem to balance out nicely, nothing too overpowering but does have a bold earthiness to it. Looking forward to the aged El Mayor offerings. RECOMMENDED

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